Let’s Talk Details
1. The Plan
2. Your Job
Barbell Bench Press (Key)
Barbell Pause Back Squat (Key)
Barbell Bench Press – A powerful press off the chest will prevent sticking points. If your chest is weak, you will get stuck a couple inches off of the chest. If your shoulders are weak or if your bar path is suboptimal, you will get stuck in the middle of the press. If you triceps are weak, which usually happens only at very heavy weights, then you may miss at the top. However, a powerful start can give you momentum to carry you through any of these points.
Barbell Pause Back Squat – the barbell back squat is heavily reliant on your ability to keep your core rigid. The best way to do this is by giving yourself a definite pause at the most core intensive spot of the lift: the bottom of the squat. Regular squats are a world of difference when you come back to them, especially if you learn to lift explosively out of a paused squat.
Deadlift – The deadlift can be a grip and rip but this does not work for everyone. When people start slightly slower off of the ground and try to accelerate on the way up, it can keep them in a better position. Maybe this is true for you too.
Stay in a Good Spot this Block
You want to add just enough sets and weight to feel like you worked out, but it is not quite a challenge yet. You want a solid workout where you leave feeling accomplished.
Plan your workout and write down the weight, sets, and rep range in the Workout Plan PDF to get you ready for Week 2.
The rep range will be the same as the previous week. The only difference is that you may not be at the top of the rep range this week. This means you should still strive to hit 5 reps on key lifts and 15 reps on accessory lifts. Regardless of the number of reps you do, make sure they are improving the quality of your technique rather than detracting from it. Our goal is to find the way that lifts heavy weight with maximum repeatability and stability.
I encourage you to pick a single weight for your working sets for each exercise. As you add more sets, you will notice that on the last set, your reps are most likely to be the lowest.
As long as your last set is still in the rep range, this performance drop is okay and expected as your muscles get depleted. However, you need to keep your technique solid because that is our priority. Make sure you choose a weight that allows you to be at the top of the rep range for most (if not all) of your working sets. RIR 3 is the goal for each of your sets, however, it is possible that your last set may get closer to RIR 2. Males tend to overestimate how strong they are while females tend to believe they are closer to failure than they are: try to be unbiased. It takes practice.
Stay away from RIR 1! You do not want to build fatigue too fast or have to compromise your technique. It is better to have the reps drop and stay in the rep range. Achieving RIR 3 takes priority over staying at the top of the rep range.
Think about each set as a chance to practice your technique. You want as much practice as possible, however, you cannot do more than you can recover from. Aim to get a little sore, never a lot, so you always are fresh to practice technique. On days where you practice technique specifically, make sure you are not overworking yourself. Those are days to get low fatigue practice.
Do enough sets where you struggle to maintain RIR 3 on your last set of each key lift. This is a great way to measure your effort to make sure that you are not going too hard too early but also that you are not taking it too easy.
Week 2 is the Goldilocks week. It is good quality technique practice that gives you an idea of what weights you could lift if you flipped the switch and went hard.
I like to rest as much as I need before I do a top set for my key exercises. This assures that I give my maximal performance.
Afterwards, I drop the weight to something more manageable (usually around my week 3 weight) and do straight sets at 1 RIR with a given rest period. After my top set, I will drop the weight and try to get a volume PR where I pick a challenging weight that I usually do for only one set (of say, 4-6 reps) and attempt to do multiple sets (each set within the 4-6 rep range). This is a great way to test how good my form is and build confidence in it.
Above all else: Make sure your rest periods are not too short where it compromises your form! Rest periods are always a second priority to form.
Fill out the table with your expected weights and sets before you go workout, so you have a clear mission. Then adjust based on actual performance.
Here’s how I would fill it out for a workout: